Our monthly spotlight on the superstars at the Alameda Wildlife
Conservation Park… and their keepers!

At the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park, all of those involved in its care and maintenance continuously strive toward maintaining a strategic plan in order to ensure the survival of many different species. This includes not only the Animal Keepers, but also the volunteers with their continual support, who take time out of their lives to make a massive contribution to caring for these animals every day.

One part of the park’s mission is to raise awareness of important conservation and biodiversity issues both locally and globally. There are two common marmosets at the park – Rommie and Djump – both of whom were rescued from the illegal pet trade and brought us from a sanctuary in the Netherlands. They now act as ambassadors for the Mountain Marmoset Conservation Project (MMPC), a project to save two highly-endangered and little heard about marmoset species, the Buffy-headed marmoset and the Buffy-tufted-ear marmoset. The Common marmosets at the park, both victims of the illegal pet trade, help to raise awareness of this issue and the far reaching implications of this trade.

Another goal is to protect endangered species by taking part in European breeding programmes. Their Cotton-Top Tamarins are part of one of these breeding programmes and all the individuals in the park have been bred there. Jess Leaper, Manager of the AWCP, said: “We have been offered pairings for two of our Cotton tops, one of the pairs (Kenco and his future girlfriend) will breed at the park.” In the future, the AWCP is working towards creating a breeding facility at the park for this species.

Through the help of volunteers, the running of the park and care for animals like the Common Marmoset and Cotton-top Tamarins is made that little bit easier for AWCP’s keepers.

9:00 am – At arrival, volunteers usually assist Animal Keeper Emily Parslow with the Lemur enclosure, cleaning the walkthrough area and hosing the plants whilst breakfast is being prepared for the Marmosets and Tamarins. Their first feed of the day is a breakfast ‘porridge’ used as a reservoir for vital vitamins.

12:00 pm – The rest of the morning will be spent preparing fruit and vegetable chops for the rest of the animals and feeding. That is usually followed by some garden maintenance until lunchtime when the Marmosets and Tamarins are given their vegetable feed of the day. Cian Green who spent some time at the park this summer said his experience was “brilliant to say the least,” he found that “working with all the different animals helped [him] learn a lot.” His highlights were feeding the animals, interacting with them and also getting to know the other volunteers and keepers.

2:00 pm – After lunch the Marmosets and Tamarins will be given their protein meal of the day which usually consists of insects, or even chicks or quail eggs. In order to keep the animals stimulated, volunteers fill little baskets with straw and hide their favourite food – mealworms – inside to encourage foraging behaviours. In the wild, Marmosets feed from the sap of trees using their adapted incisors to gouge the tree bark to access the gum. At AWCP they are given log gum feeders to replicate this behaviour.

4:00 pm – In the lead up to this, volunteers would have assisted keepers in more cleaning and feeding as well as jobs like walking Katie (a large Sulcata Tortoise) around the lemur enclosure, to give her some exercise and ensure she doesn’t fall into the pond! At the end of the day, volunteers will give the Marmosets and Tamarins their final vegetable and pellet mix. Not always an easy task as volunteer Oliver Victor, a Summer Student at the park this year had a few unexpected experiences: “As I was hanging up the shell on one of the enclosures branches, one of the females that was watching me lunged towards my hand, grabbing and biting my finger”. This was most likely Rommie, the female marmoset, who Jess describes as “quite a character”.

“Djump, the male, is smaller and tends to take a back seat. When we first introduced them to the iguanas during the summer months, Rommie would run up to the iguanas and scream pretty much every time she spotted them, for about a week!”

The AWCP will be fundraising for the MMCP for their Halloween Open Day. Visit awcp.gi or email info@awcp.gi for more information.